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Preserved Vertebrates >> Agnatha >> Hagfish


Hagfish

HagfishA Hagfish is a marine chordate of the class Myxini, also known as Hyperotreti. Despite their name, there is some debate about whether they are strictly fish, since they belong to a much more primitive lineage than any other fish group. They are long, vermiform, and exude a sticky slime (from which the typical species Myxine glutinosa was named). They tie themselves in knots to scrape the slime off of their bodies.

Instead of vertically articulating jaws like Gnathostomata (vertebrates with jaws), they have a pair of horizontally moving structures with toothlike projections for pulling off food. They enter both living and dead fish, feeding on the insides. Marine worms are also prey. They tend to be quite common in their range, sometimes becoming a nuisance to fishermen by devouring the catch before it can be pulled to the surface.

Hagfish average about half a metre (18 inches) in length; Eptatretus carlhubbsi is the largest known, with a specimen recorded at 116 cm, while Myxine kuoi and Myxine pequenoi seem to reach no more than 18 cm. An adult hagfish can secrete enough slime to turn a large bucket of water into gel in a matter of minutes.

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Niles Biological, Inc.
9298 Elder Creek Road
Sacramento, CA 95829
(916) 386-2665